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Cheverus Stags Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Cheverus Stags Fall Sports Preview

Cheverus has enjoyed its share of autumn glory in recent years and this season promises more of the same. Football is the two-time defending Class A state champion and as it aims for a three-peat, it also has a shot at breaking a hallowed record. Boys’ and girls’ soccer will once again be on the short list of top contenders, capable of beating anyone on a given day. Field hockey is accustomed to stealing headlines and this year’s team hopes to erase the sting of last year’s playoff disappointment with a deeper postseason run. Speaking of running, the girls’ cross country program has won states three years in a row and will make a stab at a fourth, while the boys’ team should also be quite formidable. Golf is considered one of the best teams in its class. The school also welcomes a varsity volleyball team for its inaugural campaign.

FOOTBALL

COACH: John Wolfgram (seventh year, 42-18 overall record, two state championships)

2011 Record: 12-0 (Beat Lawrence 49-7 to win second straight Class A state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ryan Casale (Senior), Peter Doyon (Senior), Liam Fitzpatrick (Senior), Mike Flaherty (Senior), Donald Goodrich (Senior), Brent Green (Senior), Jackson McMann (Senior), Dan Peabody-Harrington (Senior), Jim Peabody-Harrington (Senior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 (H) PORTLAND, Sept. 14 @ South Portland, Sept. 21 @ Windham, Oct. 6 (H) BONNY EAGLE, Oct. 13 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Oct. 20 (H) DEERING

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a lot of good kids to replace. It’s a strong character group. Very intelligent kids. It will depend on who steps up for us. Our goal is to play at a high level. What’s happened in the past won’t help us with Sanford (in the season opener).”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: It took a few years, but Wolfgram got Cheverus to a championship level and now the Stags are the program that everyone envies in Class A. Not very highly touted at the onset of the 2011 season, Cheverus was every bit as dominant as the 2010 title winners and behind its balance, discipline and hunger left the state in its wake once more en route to a program-first back-to-back titles. Once again, the Stags have been hit by graduation, losing 2010 state game hero and 2011 Fitzpatrick Trophy candidate Spencer Cooke, quarterback Cam Olson, kicking specialist Louie DiStasio and bruisers like Mike Dedian, Christian Deschenes and Colie Walsh, among others. Great programs reload, however, and Cheverus is indeed great. While this year’s team will need time to get to a championship caliber, the pieces are there. Wolfgram-led teams always dominate in the trenches. While players like Cooke, Evan Jendrasko, Olson and Peter Gwilym (who oh by the way, in case you missed it, has successful walked on at The Ohio State University) get the attention, it’s the Dedians, Deschenes and Zach Dulacs of the world who make breakaway runs and long TD passes possible. This autumn, the war in the trenches will be led by Dan Peabody-Harrington and Jim Peabody-Harrington. Senior Matt Cushing and junior Greg Grinnell will have an opportunity to open holes as well. Fitzpatrick steps in behind center. He saw limited time at quarterback in 2011 and mostly served as a wide receiver, but he has the leadership skills to take the mantle from Gwilym and Olson and lead this team to great things. Junior Ethan Jordan will also see some time at quarterback. Green proved his running ability a year ago and the bruising fullback stands to have another big year. Stepping into the Spencer Cooke role is Goodrich, who turned heads last fall as a sophomore, capping his year by rushing for 149 yards and four TDs and returning a kickoff 91-yards for a score in the title game victory over Lawrence. He’ll be very difficult to contend with this autumn. Flaherty and McMann will be wings. Casale and sophomore Zordan Holman could be dual threat tight ends, blocking and receiving. Cheverus’ defense almost always dictated the game a year ago and hopes to do the same this season. Doyon is a force a nose tackle. Cushing, Goodrich and Grinnell will also see time on the line. The linebacking corps includes Casale (now in his third year as a key contributor), Jordan and junior Riley Archer. In the secondary, Fitzpatrick, Flaherty, Green and junior Cody O’Brien all will have an opportunity to put a stranglehold on opposing receivers and make timely interceptions. Goodrich will punt. Sophomore Patrick Mourmouras, a soccer player, will placekick. Replacing DiStasio off the tee will be Holman, who appears to be a worthy heir with his booming kickoffs. While preseason results don’t necessarily translate to the regular year, the Stags’ dominance against Cape Elizabeth and Massabesic suggests more big things are in store. This is a program that doesn’t live in the past, but it must be pointed out that Cheverus has won two straight championships and is riding a 24-game win streak. The state record in 31 set by South Portland in the late 1990s. That team was coached by Wolfgram. Excellence begets excellence. Expect that theme to continue on the Back Cove in 2012.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Bill LeBlanc (sixth year, 44-26-8 overall record)

2011 Record: 12-4-1 (Lost, 2-1, to Windham in Western Class A semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jimmy Campbell (Senior), Andrew Rose (Senior), Charlie Mull (Junior), Patrick Mourmouras (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 13 @ Scarborough, Sept. 18 (H) WINDHAM, Sept. 25 (H) PORTLAND, Oct. 4 @ SP, Oct. 11 (H) DEERING, Oct. 16 @ Gorham

COACH'S COMMENT: “We’re a work in progress. We lost a ton, but we have good depth. I have 20 kids I can put in the field and feel comfortable with. We’ll be good defensively. We need to find a way to score goals. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be a playoff team. Between a five and a 10 seed. We want to be good come October. It’ll take us awhile.”

FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus is coming off its best season since 2004, but this year’s squad has a vastly different look. Graduation losses included SMAA Offensive Player of the Year, All-New England, co-Class A Player of the Year and Fall Male Athlete of the Year Elliot Maker and league all-stars Alexander Hoglund and Nick Melville. Sterling Weatherbie also left the program to go to a prep school. Despite the talent drain, the Stags still have plenty in reserve and will remain a playoff contender, one that will only get better as the season progresses. Mull, an honorable mention all-star in 2011, could be one of the state’s elite goalies, a great backbone for a team in transition. Defensively, he’s aided by the presence of Mourmouras. Campbell and Rose bring stability and leadership to the midfield. A trio of juniors could lead the team in scoring. Jamie Biegel, a transfer from Gorham, and brothers Elijah and Isaac Yeboah, will be difficult for the opposition to contend with. While Western Class A appears to feature perennial powerhouse Scarborough and Gorham as the favorites, there’s a lot of spots up for grabs after that. If Cheverus can stay healthy and find consistent offensive production, it will be able to compete with everyone. A sixth straight winning regular season and a 19th successive postseason appearance are certainly realistic outcomes. This could be the team no one wants to face come playoff time.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Dan LaVallee (11th year, 93-49-18 overall record)

2011 Record: 10-3-3 (Lost 2-0 to Scarborough in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jamie Dulac (Senior), Kelsey Dulac (Senior), Danielle Kane (Senior), Mikayla Mayberry (Senior), Eden Monsen (Senior), Darby Rawcliffe (Senior), Sadie Lyons (Junior), Abby Maker (Junior), Olivia Mull (Sophomore), Nicole Pineau (Sophomore), Hannah Robbins (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 14 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 18 @ Windham, Oct. 3 (H) TA, Oct. 12 (H) DEERING, Oct. 16 (H) GORHAM

COACH'S COMMENT: “If we can avoid the injury bug, I think we will go deep into the playoffs. The defense is strong and experienced (we only gave up nine goals last year) and we have proven scorers in Abby and Sadie. Playing on Saturday, Nov. 3 is not unreasonable.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus has reason to aim high. The program has consistently been a top contender in recent years. In fact, the Stags have posted a winning mark eight years running, averaging almost 11 victories per season. The offense will be led by the seemingly unstoppable Lyons (10 goals in a second-team all-conference season in 2011) and the crafty Maker (who also tickled the twine 10 times, including the winner in a preliminary round playoff game). Kane (a second-team all-star last year), Monsen and Rawcliffe (another reigning second-teamer) bring experience to the midfield and will be offensive threats as well. Jamie Dulac and Kelsey Dulac return on defense in front of the experienced Mayberry in goal. Then, there’s Mull, Pineau and Robbins, who project to play big roles. Sophomore Abby Goodrich, a transfer from York, is new to the team and will fit into the equation. This program always plays smart, poised soccer and knows it can compete with the very best teams in the conference. There will be several tough tests in the weeks to come. If Cheverus can be at its best for 14 games, another impressive record should ensue. With a little luck, the Stags will get to stay home longer in the postseason. This could be the year they take that next step and play into November. Cheverus’ fortunes will be fun to watch unfold.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Amy McMullin (fifth year, 50-17 overall record)

2011 Record: 12-3 (Lost 1-0, in four rounds of penalty corners, to Westbrook in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Brooke Flaherty (Senior), Laura Peabody-Harrington (Senior), Emily Rodrigue (Senior), Katie Roy (Senior), Staci Swallow (Senior), Elyse Caiazzo (Junior), Libby DesRuisseaux (Junior), Alex Logan (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 13 @ Massabesic, Sept. 14 @ Portland, Sept. 19 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 5 @ Sanford

COACH’S COMMENT: “I’m pleased with the offseason effort of the returning players. The girls are using last year’s playoff loss as motivation and have worked very hard so far. We have a solid group of returners and some key newcomers who will fit in nicely. We’re heavy with seniors and have some depth coming off the bench, so we’re hoping for a great season. Last year, I think we got a little ahead of ourselves, so this year, we’re going to take it day by day and focus on getting better each practice.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus’ 2011 season ended in abject heartbreak and frustration. Rest assured that the returning Stags are hungry to avenge that setback and enjoy a deeper playoff run in 2012. As usual, Cheverus lost some top-notch talent to graduation (led by 2011 Fall Female Athlete of the Year Sarah LaQuerre), but as always, the program reloads and remains on the short list of title hopefuls. The offense is keyed by potentially prolific scorers like Caiazzo, Logan, Rodrigue and Swallow (a second-team all-star last year). Flaherty’s tenacity will likely put her in the scoring column on multiple occasions and the opposition will also have to deal with juniors Mary Kate Slattery and Meredith Willard, Cheverus’ 2012 Spring Female Athlete of the Year after dominating on the lacrosse field. The defense is led by Roy and Peabody-Harrington, who was an honorable mention all-star in 2011. DesRuisseaux, an all-rookie team selection last autumn, returns in goal. Senior Cindy Clark could see some time in the cage as well. The Stags will once again be one of the most entertaining and successful teams in Western Class A. A sixth straight winning season of double digit victories is a probability if the squad can stay healthy and focused. There doesn’t appear to be a powerhouse in the region this fall, meaning the door is open for a team like Cheverus to put it all together, peak at the right time and perhaps make a run to a second state final in three seasons.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACHES:
(BOYS) Kristin Barry and Sheri Piers (third year)
(GIRLS) Valerie Guillet (ninth year, three state championships)

2011 Results:
(BOYS) 6th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) Won third straight Class A state championship

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Matt Atienza (Senior), Chandler Dundas (Senior), Brady Foshay (Senior), Mike Lyons (Senior), Adam Macaluso (Senior), Parker Montano (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Greta Niedermeyer (Senior) Emily Perry (Senior), Shannon Conley (Junior), Kiera Murray (Junior), Georgia Caso (Sophomore), Louise Nielson (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Massabesic, Scarborough boys; Bonny Eagle, Massabesic girls

COACH BARRY’S COMMENT: “We lost three of our top five runners to graduation, yet still feel optimistic that our team, led by Brady and Chandler, will develop over the course of the season and be strong for the championship meets. Brady had a tremendous outdoor track season and should be a top competitor. Chandler, Mike and Matt round out a strong senior class. Parker will look to move up the ranks after a strong freshman season. Newcomers add depth to a large and talented incoming freshman class.”

COACH GUILLET'S COMMENT: “Three of my top five and four of my top seven girls graduated last spring. That’s the story in a nutshell. It is what we call a rebuilding year. We are very small and that is always a source of worry. However, we have two of the best runners in the state with Shannon and Kiera, who have been training very diligently and consistently over the summer and are looking very strong. Georgia will be stronger this year. She was only six places behind our fifth runner last year at states, Greta has worked hard all summer to be in the best shape she’s been since 2009. Our fifth runner could be Kaitlyn Dostie or Emily Perry, who both have great potential. It will not be an easy year from a competition standpoint, but that will make us work harder and smarter and I believe that in the end, we will be more focused on achieving as a team than we have been over the past three very successful years we have had. I look forward to this new kind of challenge and I think the girls are as well.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Cheverus cross country teams will make a run at glory in the weeks to come.
The boys’ squad features returning state meet scorers Foshay (29th) and Dundas (30th). Atienza, Lyons and Macaluso are experienced. Montano will help round out the pack with seniors Michael Gordon and Zeb Tarasevich, sophomore Keegan Thomas and freshmen Aaron Hazlerig, Ian Lander, Michael Michaud, Andrew Roberts, Josh Veroneau and Jack Whaley. The Stags have the potential to be one of the best teams in the SMAA and be in position for a top five finish at the regional and state meets.
On the girls’ side, while graduation cut deep into a three-time championship roster, the cupboard is not bare. Murray (third at last year’s state meet and an all-conference and all-state selection), along with Conley (fourth at the state meet, all-conference and all-state honorable mention in 2011) are as formidable as any 1-2 punch. They’ll be joined by seniors Niedermeyer, who ran at New Englands last year, and Perry, and promising sophomores Caso, Nielson and Kaitlyn Dostie. There are several formidable teams in Western Class A this autumn and while Cheverus might not be the juggernaut of the past three seasons, the Stags can’t be overlooked. Conley and Murray will be among the best runners in the region. If others step up, Cheverus will be in position to steal late October thunder once more.

GOLF

COACH: James Ouellette (ninth year, one state championship)

2011 Results: 8-2 (2nd @ Class A state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kaleb Bourassa (Senior), Andrew Cloutier (Senior), Chris Billings (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, Scarborough

COACH'S COMMENT: “It should be a fun year.”

FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus is coming off a superb 2011 campaign and is on the short list of SMAA Northern Division favorites this fall. The Stags return Billings, who shot a 92 at the individual state championships and was named to the conference all-star second-team. Bourassa and Cloutier (another second-team all-star in 2011) also have experience for a program which is consistently among the best in the conference and state. After finishing second to Falmouth at the Class A state meet last autumn, Cheverus is hoping to go all the way this time around, but once again will have a tough time getting past the Yachtsmen, not to mention dangerous Scarborough. The Stags project to win most of their regular season matches and if they can put it all together at Natanis, a first state title since 2005 could be in the offing.

VOLLEYBALL

FIRST-YEAR VARSITY PROGRAM

COACH: Carrie Alford (first year)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kylie Libby (Senior), Alexia Fornaro (Junior), Cassidy Grover (Junior), Stephanie McKew (Junior), Maria Nappi (Junior)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 1 @ Cony, Sept. 6 @ NYA, Sept. 19 (H) LAKE REGION, Sept. 27 @ Kennebunk, Oct. 10 (H) WINDHAM, Oct. 12 @ Cape Elizabeth

COACH'S COMMENT: “Cheverus volleyball is in its first year at the varsity level. The girls are all very excited to compete at this level and have stepped up their game to be able to at least hold their own. We are incredibly lucky to have a ton of height, with those girls really developing their hitting and blocking. We are a young team with only one senior. The juniors on the team have worked exceptionally hard. Overall, I am looking forward to the season being a very competitive one.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: A new era dawns at Cheverus this fall with the addition of volleyball, a sport which has grown exponentially in southern Maine in recent years. Libby’s basketball skills figure to translate nicely to volleyball as her height will create matchup nightmares for the opposition. Grover, McKew and Nappi are other talented players on the roster. Fornaro will be the team’s defensive specialist. The Stags should be able to compete with most teams on the schedule and should improve dramatically as the season goes on. With the quality of female athlete that Cheverus possesses, it won’t be long until this is one of the area’s top programs. The inaugural 2012 campaign will be the first step on that road to contention.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Photo: File photo

Senior Liam Fitzpatrick moves from receiver to quarterback for the Stags this fall.

Photo: File photo

Junior Donald Goodrich could be one of the most dangerous players in the state this season.

Photo: File photo

Bruising senior Brent Green will be a challenge for the opposition in the weeks to come.

Photo: File photo

Senior Jimmy Campbell will be a force in the midfield this autumn.

Photo: File photo

Junior goalkeeper Charlie Mull could be the best in the league at his position.

Photo: File photo

Abby Maker has shown a flair for the dramatic on the pitch.

Photo: File photo

Senior Darby Rawcliffe is another top returner for the Stags.

Photo: File photo

Brady Foshay is a top returning runner for the Cheverus boys' cross country team.

Photo: File photo

Junior Shannon Conley is a top returning runner for a Cheverus girls' cross country squad seeking a fourth successive Class A state championship.

Fall Schedules

FOOTBALL
Fri., Aug. 31 @ Sanford
Sat., Sept. 8 H PORTLAND
Fri., Sept. 14 @ SP
Fri., Sept. 21 @ Windham
Sat,. Sept. 29 (H) GORHAM
Sat., Oct. 6 (H) BONNY EAGLE
Sat., Oct. 13 @ TA
Sat., Oct. 20 (H) DEERING
   
BOYS' SOCCER
Fri., Aug. 31 H SANFORD
Tues., Sept. 4 H BIDDEFORD
Thurs., Sept. 6 @ Bonny Eagle
Tues., Sept. 11 H NOBLE
Sat., Sept. 13 @ Scarborough
Tues., Sept. 18 H WINDHAM
Thurs., Sept. 20 @ Kennebunk
Tues., Sept. 25 H PORTLAND
Thurs., Sept. 27 @ Westbrook
Tues., Oct. 2 @ TA
Thurs., Oct. 4 @ SP
Tues., Oct. 9 H MASSABESIC
Thurs., Oct. 11 H DEERING
Tues., Oct. 16 @ Gorham

GIRLS' SOCCER
Fri., Aug. 31 @ McAuley
Wed., Sept. 5  @ Biddeford
Fri., Sept. 7  H BONNY EAGLE
Wed., Sept. 12 @ Noble
Fri., Sept. 14 H SCARBOROUGH
Tues., Sept. 18 @ Windham
Thurs., Sept. 20 @ Kennebunk
Sat., Sept. 22 H SANFORD
Tues., Sept. 25 @ Portland
Fri., Sept. 28 H WESTBROOK
Wed., Oct. 3 H TA
Wed., Oct. 10 @ Massabesic
Fri., Oct. 12 H DEERING
Tues., Oct. 16 H GORHAM

FIELD HOCKEY
Thurs., Aug. 30 H TA
Sat., Sept. 1 H DEERING
Wed., Sept. 5 @ Windham
Fri., Sept. 7 H BIDDEFORD
Tues., Sept. 11 H BONNY EAGLE
Thurs., Sept. 13 @ Massabesic
Fri., Sept. 14 @ Portland
Mon., Sept. 17  @ Marshwood
Wed., Sept. 19 H SCARBOROUGH
Tues., Sept. 25 H SP
Thurs., Sept. 27 @ Gorham
Mon., Oct. 1 H KENNEBUNK
Wed., Oct. 3 @ McAuley
Fri., Oct. 5 @ Sanford

BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY
Fri., Sept. 7 @ Gorham (Sanford)
Fri., Sept. 14 @ Westbrook (Bidd, Noble)   
Fri., Sept. 21 @ Kennebunk (BE, Mass)
Fri., Sept. 28 H  MARSH, WINDHAM
Fri., Oct. 5 @ Scarborough (TA)
Fri., Oct. 12 @ Deering (Portland, SP)

GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY
Fri., Sept. 7 @ Gorham (Sanford)
Fri., Sept. 14 @ Westbrook (Bidd, Noble)
Fri., Sept. 21 @ Kennebunk (BE, Mass)
Fri., Sept. 28 H  MARSH, WINDHAM
Fri., Oct. 5 @ Scarborough (TA)
Fri., Oct. 12  @ Deering (McA, Portland, SP)

GOLF
Thurs., Aug. 30 @ Portland
Tues., Sept. 4 (H) SCARBOROUGH
Thurs., Sept. 6 (H) FALMOUTH
Mon., Sept. 10 @ SP
Wed., Sept. 12 @ Deering
Mon., Sept. 17 (H) PORTLAND
Wed., Sept. 19 @ Scarborough
Fri., Sept. 21 @ Falmouth
Tues., Sept. 25 (H) SP
Thurs., Sept. 27 (H) DEERING

VOLLEYBALL
Sat., Sept. 1 @ Cony
Tues., Sept. 4 H FALMOUTH
Thurs., Sept. 6 @ NYA
Mon., Sept. 10 @ Scarborough
Fri., Sept. 14 @ Falmouth
Wed., Sept. 19 H LAKE REGION
Fri., Sept. 21 H YARMOUTH
Mon., Sept. 24 H GORHAM
Thurs., Sept. 27 @ Kennebunk
Sat., Sept. 29 H SCARBOROUGH
Wed., Oct. 3 H BIDDEFORD
Fri., Oct. 5 @ Greely
Wed. Oct. 10 H WINDHAM
Fri., Oct. 12 @ Cape Elizabeth